Theatre Department introduces inclusivity initiatives

The MCC Theatre Dept. building stands empty during the pandemic
In a mission to encourage discussion about diversity on campus, the Mesa Community College (MCC) Theatre and Film Arts Department has formed the Footlight Forum. It also shared a statement online on justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

“It is our shared responsibility to constantly examine the ways in which white supremacy, white privilege and racism have found their way into our sharing of stories,” the statement, signed by faculty and staff, read.

“Shortly after George Floyd’s murder and the protests began, our students also began activating in the streets,” said production manager Ruth Sager. “They were frustrated with our faculty not voicing their stance.”

MCC theater students and staff prior to the COVID-19 pandemic had the opportunity for stress management when the department created support circles in January, held on Fridays. The idea germinated because four to five students knocked on Sager’s door looking for discussion in the days leading up to a show.

When several students became involved in social activism during the summer, they asked the department via social media to make a statement on the current circumstances. The statement was posted on social media platforms and the MCC website. However, the department missed the important discussions created in January. After brainstorming, they decided on a forum, a monthly conversation highlighting the factors in the department’s statement.

The September forum hosted the Arizona Theatre Company’s associate artistic director Chanel Braggs, who also founded United Colours of Arizona Theatre in support of stage diversity. Braggs discussed overcoming the obstacles she faced before a career in performance and production and shared advice for theater students going down similar paths Sager said she hopes to see more inclusivity in the institution for people of color.

“We want to see a more inclusive production schedule representative of our student body,” said Sager. The Footlight Forum will host an event on Oct. 13. Michael Thompson and Maybe Stewart will LGBTQ+ and gender identity in performing arts.

Information on the Footlight Forum, including future scheduled dates, can be found here:

About Author

Allison Cripe is a guest writer for the Mesa Legend. She also writes songs and short stories such as this one in Across the Margin: Dogs are her spirit animal(s).

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